Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in males, and in the United States, it will affect 1 in 5 men at some point in their lifetime.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that in 2010 there will be more than 210,000 new diagnoses, and over 30,000 deaths from prostate cancer. The disease usually affects older men and is rare in those under 45. There are several treatment options for early stage prostate cancer, including surgery and external or implanted radiation therapy. However, roughly one third of men have locally advanced or metastatic disease when they seek medical attention. At these stages of disease, treatment options are limited and have potentially severe side effects. Scientists at Torrey Pines are taking several new approaches to treating prostate cancer that hold great promise for the future. Immunotherapy is designed to boost the immune system’s natural ability to recognize and destroy the cancer cells, or to destroy the blood vessels that supply essential nutrients for cancer growth. One type of immunotherapy has recently been approved by the FDA, paving the way for similar approaches to move forward. Another approach is to deliver tumor suppressor genes right to the tumor itself. This approach causes the tumor to switch off cell division, and the Institute's researchers are developing more effective combinations of suppressor genes, and more efficient methods to target the genes to the tumor.